Historic Claudelands Grandstand to be officially opened


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2 February 2009

The newly refurbished Claudelands Grandstand will be officially opened this Wednesday [4 February] – marking the next chapter in the rich history of this historic building.

The landmark grandstand, which was registered Category II by the Historic Places Trust, was shifted 500m across the Claudelands site last April and has since undergone extensive restoration work. Its $1.5 million restoration saw original character design features retained and restored, lower grandstand seating removed in order to recapture its original design, and internal walls removed to create a large open-planned function space, suitable for banquets, corporate functions, weddings and special events.

Event Facilities Manager Mark Christie said it has been satisfying to see the project develop through to the stage where the Grandstand is now an invaluable asset for Hamilton.

"This project has been successful in celebrating the grandstand's rich history by breathing life back into what was formerly a deteriorating and underutilised building," he said.

"Not only is it now an asset in its own right, but will also play a key role in Claudelands' event offering."

New Zealand Historic Places Trust's Lower Northern Area Manager Gail Henry said the grandstand project is "a real accomplishment for Hamilton City Council and the community".

"The Claudelands Grandstand is a brilliant outcome for Hamilton heritage … This has been an incredibly successful partnership, and clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when there's goodwill between different stakeholders and a willingness to make appropriate compromises in order to achieve something really special."

Ms Henry described it as "a carefully planned refurbishment that respects and works with the original fabric of the structure while still retaining its original use" – with the end result drawing rave reviews even before its official opening.

"I had a call from somebody who attended a function at Claudelands the other day who was enthusiastic in her praise of the completed grandstand complex as a functions venue, and how it evoked childhood memories of attending gymkhanas and race meets," she said.

"We're delighted that this marvellous link with Hamilton's past will be retained, and that new generations of people will be able to enjoy this gracious old building."

The grandstand's new location on the top of the Oval, adjacent to the playground, was carefully selected to enable the grandstand to take maximum advantage of key components in the Claudelands redevelopment project. Its relocation also formed an 'invisible timeline' across the site – linking from 'pre-European' Jubilee Bush at the northern end to the 'early-European' grandstand in the centre, then finally linking across to the 'modern' conference and event facilities in the southern corner.

Last April's relocation was not the first time Claudelands Grandstand has experienced a move. Built in Cambridge in 1879 as a grandstand and offices for the Cambridge Jockey Club, it was dismantled in 1886, moved by rail to Hamilton and was re-erected at Claudelands where it provided seating for attendees of South Auckland Racing Club race meets, then later for Waikato Racing Club and Waikato Trotting Club meets together with the Waikato A&P Show.

Claudelands Grandstand is now available for event bookings. For more information visit www.claudelands.co.nz


Name: Mark Christie
Designation: Facilities Manager
Tel (Direct): 07 958 5801
Mobile: 021 775 607
Fax (Direct): 07 958 5815
Name: Kylee Bruce
Designation: Communication Advisor
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6726
Mobile: 021 816 917
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6761
Page reviewed: 02 Feb 2009 12:00am